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Books

Snyder’s On Tyranny

Prof. Timothy Snyder’s On Tyranny: ‘Lesssons from the Twentieth Century’ (2017) recently came my way. By design, it’s a brief presentation of twenty lessons that Snyder has discerned after a long career as a historian, with significant study and research on twentieth-century European history. It’s a small, inviting pamphlet addressing a big, unwelcome subject. We’ve…

An Example of Bottomless Ignorance in Walworth County

Some residents of Walworth County, Wisconsin object to public health measures to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus. So hysterical is their opposition that one reads Opponents say county’s coronavirus safeguards are ‘like Russia’: Confronted by a raucous crowd of opponents fearing government intrusion, Walworth County Board members have backed away from a measure…

Bogus Bibliophiles Benito Mussolini & Donald Trump

There’s an oft-repeated tale, from Ernest Hemingway, about an encounter he had with Benito Mussolini in the 1920s, in which Mussolini – by Hemingway’s account – pretends to read a book: At a time when the Western consensus was championing Mussolini’s potential to rehabilitate postwar Italy, Hemingway branded the Duce as “coward” with a “genius…

Fact-Checking is an Active, Ongoing Effort

Laura Hazard Cohen explains that “First-generation fact-checking” is no longer good enough. Here’s what comes next: “Fact checkers need to move from ‘publish and pray’ to ‘publish and act.’” “The idea that fact checking can work by correcting the public’s inaccurate beliefs on a mass scale alone doesn’t stack up,” write representatives from Full Fact…

The Pictures on the Wall

During a recent visit to the public library here in Whitewater, I stopped to look at a display of photographs, of framed pictures each showing a resident of the city posing with a book. The residents were easy to see, but the book titles harder to identify, so I drew closer to the exhibit.  As…

Review: Everything Trump Touches Dies

Not everyone who opposes Trump does so from the same position or perspective; a picture that depicts his opponents only as Democrats and liberals is a pinched – and false – illustration. There are yet Republicans (and independents of no major party) who have and always will oppose Trump. Republicans (and this libertarian) who implacably…

Reading Next: Truth Decay (‘An Initial Exploration of the Diminishing Role of Facts and Analysis in American Public Life’)

I’m currently reading Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury on the Trump campaign & administration. (FW has a currently reading widget on the right sidebar of this website.) Afterward, I’ve something in queue, from Jennifer Kavanagh and Michael D. Rich – their just-published Truth Decay: An Initial Exploration of the Diminishing Role of Facts and Analysis…

Advocacy Seldom Reaches Chocoholics

A necessary element of writing or speaking – if it is to be enjoyable and sustained – is to believe what one writes or says, and to express those beliefs as one naturally would. (Even more important, of course, is to hold sound ideas, but here I’m writing about the underlying feeling of expression.) Writing…

Considering Janesville: An American Story (Part 14 of 14)

This is the final post in a series considering Amy Goldstein’s Janesville: An American Story. I can happily recommend Goldstein’s book, both for the tale it tells of a single city’s struggle after an auto plant closes, and for what readers may reasonably infer about a none-too-bright boosterism that has left Janesville (and other cities) divided…

Considering Janesville: An American Story (Part 13 of 14)

This is the thirteenth in a series of posts considering Amy Goldstein’s Janesville: An American Story. In this post, I’ll cover one chapter of Part Six (2013) of Janesville (Chapter 54, A Glass More Than Half Full). Goldstein’s 54th chapter describes a 2013 dinner of Forward Janesville (a local “business alliance hell-bent on reviving the city’s economy”). Someone at…

Considering Janesville: An American Story (Part 12 of 14)

This is the twelfth in a series of posts considering Amy Goldstein’s Janesville: An American Story. In this post, I’ll cover one chapter of Part Six (2013) of Janesville (Chapter 50, Two Janesvilles). Amy Goldstein is not, by style of writing, a polemicist (something that might be said, for example, of a blogger). Yet, for it all, she knows…

Considering Janesville: An American Story (Part 11 of 14)

This is the eleventh in a series of posts considering Amy Goldstein’s Janesville: An American Story. In this post, I’ll cover one chapter of Part Five (2012) of Janesville (Chapter 47, First Vote). Amy Goldstein’s chapter about the November 2012 presidential election is a study in contrasts, between the polling-place experiences of first-time voter and vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan. Goldstein’s…